Preparing for a Pandemic

Community Emergency Response Team

What is a pandemic?

A pandemic is basically a global epidemic — an infectious disease that spreads rapidly to a large population in more than one continent.1 For example, influenza or ebola are highly contagious viruses. Two main features of any pandemic are:

  1. The virus is a new strain that has never infected people before, like the swine or avian flu in recent years, infecting a population which has no immunity to it.
  2. The infections spread on a global scale with a high mortality rate.2

Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight (8) hours. Your exposure to sick people can increase the possibility of catching the disease. During the winter season, viral infection increases due to the low humidity in the air. This allows the germs to remain airborne longer.3 The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping a 6 foot buffer from sick people to cut down on the spread of disease.

Research shows anxiety and stress can weaken your immune system leaving you more vulnerable to infections.  Smoking cigarettes weakens the tiny disease-fighting hairs tucked inside the nasal passages and the lungs, which trap and dispose of germs. Drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time weakens the immune system as well as dehydrating a person reducing the nose and throat’s ability to trap germs in mucus.4

Seasonal flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing and/or sore throat
  • Runny of stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Swine or Avian Flu Symptoms include:

  • All the seasonal symptoms PLUS
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (exception – children)
  • Can be fatal

What to do when a pandemic is predicted?

Build a pandemic kit: to minimize germ/virus spread, care-givers should limit physical exposure to the contagious elements like body fluids.

  • Disposable hooded Tyvek suits with elastic wrists ankles and non-skid socks
  • Safety Goggles
  • N95-100 particulate respirator
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Liquid bandage spray protects against infection and helps wounds heal quicker
  • Anti microbial wipes to prevent the spread of germs and maintain  sanitary conditions
  • Tissue packs to contain mucus and sneezing and coughing spray
  • Trash bags for sanitary disposal of waste and used protective clothing
  • Antiseptic hand sanitizer gel can be used if access to good old soap and water isn’t available
  • Plastic sheeting is suggested to provide a separation between the sick and the not sick
  • Duct tape to use with the plastic sheeting

Acquire medication: to provide some comfort for fevers and congestion

  • Elderberry juice is a natural flu med, clinically proven to reduce the length of flu sickness – for a sick person: 1-3 Tbs every 4-6 hours; as an immune boost: 1-2 Tbs daily
  • Tylenol/ibuprofen for fever and aches and pain reduction 
  • Decongestants to provide comfort from coughs and colds; saline nasal spray

Food and supplies: to feed your family for the 90 days that it takes a pandemic to circle the globe, infect, kill, and then burn itself out from lack of susceptible hosts 

  • In addition to a variety of food for healthy people, include items that are easy to swallow and nutritious for the sick, like broths and jello.
  • Soap, disinfectants, rubbing alcohol, cleaning supplies
  • Extra bed linens, water proof mattress and pillow covers
  • Gasoline
  • Humidifiers

When to hunker down?

Pay attention to the news and other lines of communication in your community. When you learn that sickness is within 100 miles of your home, it is time to go into social isolation. Did you know that it takes less than 10% of key infrastructure workers calling in sick to disrupt delivery of utilities? That means no electricity. Are you prepared for that?

  • Isolation means no outside contact
  • Do not come within 20 feet of other people; be aware of any coughing or sneezing
  • Do not accept anything from anyone without 10 days of isolation; then sterilize
  • No grocery store for 90 days
  • No work – check on possibility of working from home
  • No school – get school work assignments for children to do at home
  • Don’t go to hospital except in case of immediate life threatening emergency
  • Be prepared for power grid to fail
  • Set up an isolation area for anyone who may become sick

What should be in an isolation room?

This should be in a separate building or outside in an RV, trailer, or tent. Remove all unnecessary items from the room. If someone exhibits symptoms, isolate them immediately. One person should be designated as the care giver. If there are two or more sick people, have them share a room and bathroom. Document the disease progress. If you have to keep the sick in the same dwelling, use the plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a barrier, floor t0 ceiling.

Isolation room contents: put these things in the isolation room and leave them there

  • Tissues
  • Trashcan with a lid and plastic liners
  • Plenty of water for the sick
  • Thermometer
  • Humidifier – extra moisture aids breathing
  • Face masks for the sick to protect care giver
  • Window fan for negative pressure and air circulation
  • Waste bucket

Wash all bedding and other clothing on the hottest setting. Wear gloves when handling contaminated items. Use disposable dishes and utensils. Use rubbing alcohol for sterilizing the sick room. Once infected with a flu virus a person is contagious  for up to 10 days. Protect yourself while caring for the sick by using protective clothing, masks and gloves. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and increase your vitamins to boost immune system.


Billie Nicholson, Editor
December 2014

This month’s issue includes:
  • During our conversations with Pearl Harbor Survivors, they continued to warn us of the importance of being prepared – on every level, from our national military down to each individual. During World War II, everyone sacrificed to insure that world peace would be restored.
  • Mama’s Last Gift ~ Who would expect 33 year old jelly to be any good? The jelly was firm and no crystallization or mold was apparent. A taste test confirmed the goodness within.
  • As you make your list and check it twice for holiday gifts, (even from-you-to-you gifts), check out our “Prepared Family Combo.”
  • Deer hunting season is a highlight of the winter months. Here is our favorite recipe made in the Sun Oven®. Served with warm Artisan bread, this makes a hearty meal in any weather.
  • Persimmons are a sweet and delicious fruit filled with vitamins and minerals. The Fuyu variety makes a nutritious persimmon leather.
  • Generosity during the holidays often includes contributions to food banks. Think about adding healthy items in your Food Bank Contribution.

Super-Size Your Rain Barrel for Water Storage

Super size water storageIt’s nice to have a supply of rainwater for gardening purposes and, with that in mind, we put a rain barrel to collect water from off the roof of our shop. The usual rain barrel system has a single plastic drum placed under the downspout on the corner of a building. About 30,000 gallons of rainwater falls on the roof of the average home per year. So there is plenty of water to go around. Excess water overflows the barrel and is absorbed into the ground.

We do not want to use valuable stored drinking water for cleaning, washing and hygiene if we lose access to our regular water supply. We decided to expand the amount of rainwater storage by adding two additional water barrels next to our existing one. We used sturdy plastic trashcans we had on hand.

When installing any water catchment system it is necessary to make sure that each barrel is on a sturdy base and is level. As a base we used cinder blocks and 2×4 pressure treated lumber.

Super size water storage

We drilled holes into the trash-can lids and installed garden hoses from one barrel to the next. To keep the hose ends from floating we placed a weight on the hose end. Before inserting the hose fully in place we charged each hose with water so that there would be a siphon-effect between the barrels.

When the water is used from one barrel the other barrels drain too. They also fill up the same way through the siphon-effect. As a final touch we placed a screen barrier at each hole so the mosquitos would not breed in the stored water. We treated the water by adding non-scented, not detergent bleach in the amount of 12 ounces per 50 gallon barrel. This prevents algae from growing in the water. We now have 150 gallons of rainwater storage capacity.

Super Size water storage


Robert Nicholson
November 2014

This month’s article includes:

Thanksgiving Day – An American Tradition  a change of economic systems led to this holiday for expressing gratitude

A Winter “To Do” List  Don’t let cold weather catch you unprepared.

Use household items to make your own Gel packs for sprains and swollen joints.

Inviting pests to leave your home this winter, naturally.

Commit these ground to air emergency codes to memory. You may need them this winter.

Squash Chips – an alternate way to preserve summer squash without freezing.

French style Stew


Ground to Air Emergency Code

If you go hiking or skiing, these symbols may be useful should you need to communicate with a rescue team from afar. You need to send a message your rescuer will understand. Keep a copy of these symbols in your jacket pocket or better yet, commit these to memory.

Symbol              Message

I                        Serious injuries, need a doctorEmergency Ground to Air Emergency Code

II                        Need medical supplies

V                        Require assistance

F                         Need food and water

LL                       All is well

Y                         Yes

N                         No

X                         Require medical assistance

–>                       Proceeding in this direction

Go to a large clear area on the highest terrain. Use whatever you can find as a marker that can be seen from aircraft or search parties.  Pick items that will contrast with the ground. When all else fails, remember the international symbol : SOS

Billie Nicholson, Editor
November 2014

This month’s article includes:

Thanksgiving Day – An American Tradition  a change of economic systems led to this holiday for expressing gratitude

A Winter “To Do” List  Don’t let cold weather catch you unprepared.

Use household items to make your own Gel packs for sprains and swollen joints

Super size your rain water storage

Inviting pests to leave your home this winter, naturally

Squash Chips – an alternate way to preserve summer squash without freezing

French style Stew

A Winter “To Do” List

  1. Stock up on staples – buy items you like to eat including some things that require little or no cooking
  2. Winter clothing update
    1. Check for fit – for both adults and children
    2. Boots, hats, gloves, coats – depending on your location and your outdoor exposure
    3. Layers for added warmth – plan on thermal underwear, sweaters and jackets, ear covers
  3. Winterize your garden
    1. Clean up garden beds discarding dead plants
    2. Mulch items that overwinter
    3. Prepare protective coverings for cold hardy plants
    4. Final harvest – before a hard freeze ruins them
    5. Bring some plants inside – herbs are always welcome and add a flair to foods
    6. Put away plant cages – tomato cages need to be cleaned and stacked
    7. Store irrigation timers, removing batteries and put hoses inside after draining
  4. Plans to stay warm
    1. Sealing the windows and doors to minimize cold drafts
    2. Generator & fuel for power outages – run monthly to keep battery charged and seals lubricated
    3. Alternative energy sources – wood or biomass logs
  5. Prepare to shelter & feed livestock including pets
  6. Organize emergency tools together
    1. Flashlights and lanterns – extra batteries and oil
    2. Shovels and ice scrappers
    3. Water turn-off tool in case of burst pipe; cover outside spigots
  7. Winterize your vehicle
    1. Emergency supplies to eat, drink & keep warm for your emergency car kit
    2. Check battery health – clean up any battery cable corrosion
    3. Fill windshield washer reservoir with fluid containing antifreeze solution
    4. Check radiator antifreeze level
    5. Check tire pressure to reduce wear on tires
    6. Keep a bag of kitty litter in the car to help get out of slippery places

8. Pick an indoor hobby

Billie Nicholson, Editor
November 2014


This month’s article includes:

Thanksgiving Day – An American Tradition  a change of economic systems led to this holiday for expressing gratitude

Use household items to make your own Gel packs for sprains and swollen joints

Commit these ground to air emergency codes to memory. You may need them this winter.

Commit these ground to air emergency codes to memory. You may need them this winter.

Super size your rain water storage

Squash Chips – an alternate way to preserve summer squash without freezing

French style Stew

Escaping a Riot

What to Do When

Escaping a Riot

Riots can be as dangerous and as unpredictable as a natural disaster. They result in thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage each year. Here are some steps to help protect yourself, should you get caught in the middle of a “community unrest” situation.

  1. Be aware – pay attention to events happening in your community or a city you might be visiting. Avoid riot-prone areas. Any crowd can become dangerous if the general mood becomes angry or hysteric. Know where you are in the community and be aware of escape routes; have several of them. Look for crossroads. This will give you an alternate route to take away from protestors or riot police. Always carry some cash in case you need to arrange another form of transportation or purchase food or drinks. You do not want to be considered a looter.
  2. Stay Calm – keep your emotions in check and don’t get caught up in the “mob mentality.” Avoid confrontations, keep your head down but be looking for an escape route, keep moving at a steady pace. Move to a place you can get inside away from the mayhem. Keep away from windows when inside, lock doors and windows, and look for a couple of exits in case you need them.
  3. Keep Companions Close - lock elbows, hold children in your arms, and keep up a reassuring dialog. Your focus should be getting away from the danger.
  4. Don’t Get Involved - your goal should be to keep as low a profile as possible and continue to move away from the center of action. If you are in the middle of a crowd, move toward the outside calmly and slowly.
  5. Drive Appropriately - stay in your car and remain calm, lock your doors, driving carefully but with intent. Should your vehicle become a target, get out and leave it behind. Otherwise, sound your horn and drive carefully around or through a group. Give them time to get out of the way. DO NOT drive toward a police line. They consider vehicles a deadly weapon and may react accordingly.
  6. Avoid Heavy Traffic areas - know alternate routes to get you over, around, or through a crowed area. Safety is the major issue here, not necessarily the quickest way home.
  7. Maintain Maneuverability - if a mob or the police rush your way, step sideways or move diagonally between groups rather than trying to out-run them.
  8. Communication - cell phone channels may be unavailable in the event of a major event. Resort to text messages. Look for phone booths; often they will have priority over other land lines when a system overloads.
  9. Carry a Flashlight - people often panic in the dark. Light a path and you can see where to go.
  10. Avoid Public Transportation – buses and taxis can become a target you don’t want to be trapped inside. Metro trains may be shut down and the stations can be full of people, waiting for another spark of hysteria to incite violence.
  11. Be Bold - act like you know what you’re doing and where you are going. Move and speak with confidence. Use an authoritarian, but not hostile, voice and people will listen. Most of all, think clearly about escape.


Billie Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
How’s Your Battery
Emergency Medical Assessment
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup 



Emergency Medical Assessment

Dr. James Hubbard, The Survival Doctor

 How to Figure Out What’s Wrong

Picture yourself walking down a trail and you find someone lying down, unconscious. Or it could be inside or outside your house, on the side of a road after a wreck—virtually anywhere. But let’s stick with the scenario of a trail. What would you do? Put yourself in the scene. What would do?

Go for help? Yell for help? Run over and actually try to help? Ignore the whole ordeal? That’s going to be a little awkward given the situation that you’re the only one around, but I’m sure it would be tempting to some. But, in fact, after you’re viewed all the segments in this video series, I hope they’ll prompt you not only to help out, but in some instances take charge, even in a crowd of people—at least until expert help becomes available, if that is an option.

Okay, have you thought about it? Someone’s unconscious. What you should do?Emergency Medical Assessment

Your Safety First

First is make sure you’re safe. Make sure whatever might have injured this person isn’t going to injure you. I mean, you’re not helping anyone if you get injured also. In fact, you’re doing more harm because now there are two victims to save. So, look for possible falling rocks, animals, other people who may wish you harm. Next, if you deem it safe, go over and check the person. Yell, “Are you okay?” Shake their shoulder. Pinch their face.

You might get a pinch back if they wake up, but do whatever you can to wake the person … except, what’s the number one thing you should not do at this time? Do you know?

Do not move the person. Not even their head. Not even a little bit.

Only in dire circumstances, like a fire is coming right toward you, should you move the victim. Why? You don’t know whether there’s been neck or back trauma. If you move a person with a broken neck, for instance, and the person pulls through, you could potentially have caused paralysis. More on how to protect the neck and back in my spine segment.

If you can’t get a response, check for any signs of life at all. Such as is the person breathing?

Check for Breathing

So how to check for breathing? Look at and feel the chest. Is it moving?

If the person is moving the chest or any other part, say a hand or foot, you can assume they must be breathing and the heart is beating. If the person is making any sounds, even a grunt, you can assume there’s breathing and a beating heart.

You should do this assessment within a few seconds. Also, about now, you want to shout for help and call 911 if it’s available. If someone’s with you, they should do it, while you continue to assess.

If There’s No Breathing

     If there’s no breathing, begin chest compressions right away. But why not check for a pulse? Current thinking is, unless you’re experienced in doing that, you may be uncertain of whether you’re feeling one and waste valuable time before you start compressions.

Why no mouth-to-mouth? Doing chest compressions alone has been found to revive as many people as combining it with artificial breathing. Again, this assumes you’re not a medical professional. If the person is not breathing, you can assume the heart is not beating. Start compressions.

If you cannot get 911 and someone is with you, they should immediately go for help or at least go until they get into cell range.

From “The Survival Doctor’s Emergency Training Course

Emergency Medical Assessment

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
How’s Your Battery Health?
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup

What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?

Are You Prepared Every Day?

 Every Day CarryNot long ago I attended a bridal shower where one of the games gave points for a list of items in your purse.  As I went down the list, a picture of preparedness emerged. All of us have items we carry every day, like photo identification in the form of driver’s license, credit cards, membership cards, cell phones, and money. Don’t confuse this with a Bug-Out-Bag or the emergency kit you have in your car. In an emergency, if you couldn’t get to your auto or home, how would you get along? What do you carry with you every day?

What Do You Carry?

The items you carry everyday are often based on your health, profession and vanity. By rethinking these with a preparedness mindset, perhaps you may modify what’s in your EDC. We are limited by how much weight we are willing to carry and how we attach it to us. We are also limited by the number of pockets in clothing and by the number of free hands we have, so minimalism is critical.

      The items in your EDC will be determined by several factors: do you live in an urban or rural place, where do you go every day, are you traveling on public transportation or on foot, what is the climate and the season of the year, is your route socially safe, and what are the local laws regarding what you carry?

Add These to Your Every Day Carry Kit

  • Items that can help you get food like coins, cash or other small barter items.
  • Energy bars that are high in calories and have a long shelf life.
  • A 3 day’s supply of any medicine that you take regularly.
  • Water purification tablets or a straw water filter and an empty (for storage) wide mouth water bottle.
  • A Mylar survival blanket can provide shelter.
  • Tools that will help you scavenge for food, like a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool.
  • Remember the Speedhook?
  • Edible plant guide.
  • Fire starter or lighter to build a fire to cook food on or keep you warm.
  • Cell phones can contain emergency contact information. Even without service you can call 911.
  • Rope or string, including unflavored dental floss or 550 paracord, for many binding purposes.
  • Mini flashlight will provide light when you need it. Check batteries every few months.
  • Personal protection devices (where permitted by law) can range from a whistle, pepper spray, self defense tools like tactical pens to hand guns.
  • Hand sanitizers will help you avoid infection if you are exposed to others that are ill or if you sustain a wound. Bandaids got me extra points at the bridal shower.
  • If you wear contacts or glasses, extras are a must along with saline packets.
  • Remember knowledge trumps equipment every day of the week.

      Whatever items you choose for your Every Day Carry, make sure you know how to use them.

Billie Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
Emergency Medical Assessment 
How’s Your Battery Health?  
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup

Prepper Camp™ Recap

Prepper Camp

In the foothills of western North Carolina, over 600 serious preparedness citizens gathered for a 3-day, total immersion experience in survival at Prepper Camp™. Attendees had opportunities to learn from the best in the business about topics ranging from alternative power solutions, cheese making, first aid, herbal medicine, how to grow a camouflaged food forest, solar cooking and water filtration. In addition, they had time to talk to vendors and practice some of the skills they learned during evening activities as they camped on the meeting site.

Prepper Camp™


Billie  Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
Emergency Medical Assessment  
How’s Your Battery Health?  
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier, 
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our solar Chef presents Solar Apple Soup



Be Disaster Aware

Be Disaster Aware The chances that your family will survive a disaster depends as much on your family planning as it does on local governmental agencies like police, fire and rescue. Families should have the tools and plans to support and protect themselves for at least the first three days (72 hours) into a disaster. Research on personal preparedness shows that many people who think they’re prepared are really NOT. In addition, some admit that they do not plan to prepare at all. Our nation’s emergency planners, fire fighters, EMT/Paramedics and law enforcement officers do an unbelievable job of keeping us safe, but they can’t do it alone. The biggest challenge is motivating everyone to participate in disaster preparedness activities. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is critical to being prepared. It may make the difference between life and death. When we accept the personal responsibility to become prepared, we participate in the safety and security of our neighborhoods and communities. September is National Preparedness Month.

  1. Get a kit
  2. Make a Plan
  3. Be Informed, Get Involved 
  4. Do It NOW.


Additional Articles in September 2014 newsletter include:

Leadership: Restoring order during catastrophic chaos

Growing your own food all year

Home Security Checklist

Emergency Preparedness for people with disabilities

Introducing the UV Paqlite

Solar Moroccan Style Meatballs from our Solar Chef

Leadership: Restoring Order During Catastrophic Chaos

from a presentation by Travis Waack

As a part of the Summer of Survival webinar series, Travis Waack shared the following information about leadership and organization during a disaster. These notes were taken during that talk and are supplemented by additional details from an ICS pdf from   Editor

Leadership during a catastrophe

Sometimes we have warnings of coming disasters, sometimes we don’t. Whenever they occur, the first noticeable problem is a lack of communication among the citizens of the area affected and among those involved in providing rescue and recovery. In a culture of preparedness, like our readers, we need to recognize the problems and develop ways to control the situation, not just crisis manage, for the benefit of our families and our communities.

Incident Command System

The Incident Command System (ICS) was developed following a series of California wildfires which caused millions in damage and the death of several people. Local, state and federal fire authorities collaborated to form FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies. This group reviewed the wildfire responses and discovered that poor incident management was to blame, not a lack of resources. Major problems were associated with nonstandard terminology, nonstandard or integrated communication, lack of organizational flexibility, lack of consolidated action plans and lack of designated facilities. ICS was designed to overcome these problems. Following 9/11 this program was nationalized. Today, most major incidents demand so many resources and skills that one local, state, or federal agency couldn’t provide them. The Incident Command System provides a way for many agencies to work together smoothly under one management system.ICS pdf from

 Leadership by emergency personnel

Any incident that requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or property or locale damage can be managed by an ICS. It can operate regardless of jurisdictional boundaries and can grow or shrink to meet the needs of the incident. It is designed to develop work accountability and safety, improve communications, enforce a systematic planning process, fully integrate people and supplies, enhance communications to everyone involved and define the chain of command.

Leadership: Restoring Order

Leadership Support Groups

The Incident Commander depends on the information from four supporting groups to provide the necessary information to make final decisions. This command model may have two or more individuals serving as the commander who work as a team. A good commander is responsible for making sure all pieces of the structure are working together properly.

  •      The Operations section does the work; they are the boots on the ground doing the response to whatever the emergency may be. 
  •      The Planning section provides support information. They know what resources are available and collaborate with operations to write incident actions plans – which are objectives for the next day.
  •      The Logistics section procures materials and supplies; obtains and manages facilities; supports workers with food, lodging and medical care. They provide radio communications and IT support.    
  •      Finance & Administration is in charge of paying for supplies, processing compensation and tracking costs and statistics.  

     Each role can be adapted to meet the needs of a Prepper network. A deliberate process will be essential if a group is to be led during a catastrophic chaos. Consider this system for your community.

Additional articles in the September 2014 newsletter include:

Growing your own food all year

Home Security Checklist

Emergency Preparedness for people with disabilities

Introducing the UV Paqlite

Solar Moroccan Style Meatballs from our Solar Chef

Be Disaster Aware

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